Business communications is changing rapidly. The changes are enabled by technologies, for sure, but the opportunities are in the improvements to business processes and outcomes, not in the technologies themselves.
One way to think about this is to ask the question, “How could any one of the communications methods now in use be improved by shifting to another technical approach?” This is what’s happening both in business and consumer settings.
If we were in an age of minimal technology change, then usually the answer to the question would be, “The current methods are the best that can be done.” However, we’re in an era of enormous change in communications technologies. Three of the most dramatic of these are:
- Almost ubiquitous wired and wireless network connectivity at dramatically lower costs
- Global adoption of wireless devices, especially smartphones that are also computing platforms for applications, or “apps"
- Increasingly powerful and economical software apps and application development platforms, available on these networks and devices
If we apply these changes to the question of improved communications, we get answers such as these:
- The response to a voice call inquiry can be improved by an app that queries and instantly presents information from a database.
- Rather than requiring a call center agent’s help with a transaction – say making an airline reservation -- a customer could use a software application that's accessed via Web pages or apps on a computer or smartphone.
- Instead of making a phone call to request help or action, individuals can send written requests using mobile SMS texting, online chat ,or email, since the text format is self-documenting and asynchronous in time demands.
- Users can stop swiveling from business software application screens to a phone, email application, or other communications tool when the calling or messaging function is placed directly in the business application software interface.
This list can go on and on and on. The important point is to understand the methodology and then to apply the methodology with energy and skill. As soon as a list of possible improvements can be generated, it will be possible to prioritize the list to find the best sequence in which to pursue these changes. Then, each such change will grab another layer of gains for your organization, whether in the public or private sector.
Clearly, we can see this is happening. The evidence is everywhere. Revenue growth in our enterprise communications industry is coming from the suppliers that are delivering the technologies and the methods to do this. Top examples are Apple and Google on smartphones; Twilio and Nexmo and other communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) providers; carriers and their network technology partners, especially Cisco, that deliver the nearly ubiquitous connectivity.
However, don’t overlook the communications-based growth on the software application category. Salesforce.com is an excellent example; Salesforce has grown top-line revenue from $5 billion in FY2013 to $10 billion in FY2018. A portion of this growth comes from adding communication features to its SaaS platform.
For example, a number of companies in the utility industry are moving their entire contact center agent platform to Salesforce.com, enhanced by vertical industry-specific customer experience scripting from Vlocity, a Salesforce partner. This changes the entire contact center model for this industry sector; the contact center system becomes a utility service to the Salesforce agent, rather than the agent interface platform. This example exists because the better way to provide an excellent customer experience was to build that customer experience on Salesforce data rather than simply on the optimization of telephony metrics and agent staffing. The staffing levels are reduced, too, due to the efficiency of the scripting, but that’s an outcome not a goal.
If you want to pursue these ideas for your organization, you may wish to review the recent No Jitter series
on communications in six vertical industries. These posts show how communications are changing in vertical industries in ways that are represented by a set of nine Usage Profiles.
BCStrategies is an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.